Note: The setting takes place in Urahara's home.

Please enjoy.

Disclaimer: I'm not talented enough to own Bleach



When you woke up, you immediately noticed the light shining cruelly above you too invasive. The alarmed voices of your friends were viciously loud, and when you propped yourself up, a rush of blood in your head pushed you back down to the mattress. You were a mess, you were hurt, and you cursed.

"Where is Rukia?"

Your voice was too demanding for it to be a question. And you stared right at Orihime as you said it, who was shaking in a cold sweat by your side, trying- and failing- to heal your wounds. Because her powers rely heavily on her emotions. And with your body coaxed in blood, your left eye unable to open, and your voice hoarse in pain, she was too distraught to be of much help.

"Where is Rukia?" you repeated, and Orihime avoided your eyes as she answered to the floor, "Kurosaki-san, I think you should just... see her later. You're very hurt."

And in response to her answer, you violently kicked the sheets off your body and you fought the pain of lightheadedness, staggering with a radical limp to the room where you heard familiar voices. With your good arm, you slid the tatami door open.

And that's when you met me.

I was screaming and swearing and kicking Urahara and Renji, who were struggling to pin me down against the bed. I was a lunatic. Renji's broad hands kept a towel rag pressed at the side of my body. He was hastily trying to keep the quarts and quarts of blood from escaping the monstrous hole of my side. And I hated him for it, because the pressure of his hands just intensified the pain. The agony drove me to madness; I was not thinking straight. And I pleaded and I begged and I insisted I will not die if he could just let go and let the blood leave my body. But Urahara told him to press on and I surrendered back to my insane, vulgar acts of swearing and kicking.

You were tormented at the sight of me. You bellowed Orihime's name. And when she appeared, you grabbed her shoulder tightly and pleaded, "Heal her."

"Kurosaki-kun... I-I can't."

"Why the hell not?"

But you already knew why the hell not. And as your eyes fell back at my body, you listened to Renji's pitiful attempts to soothe me between the perpetual intervals of my shrieks and roars. I hated everyone. Just heal me, just drug me, just kill me if that's what it takes to relieve me of this pain. And in an instant I thought of death, and I thought of that grim and rainy night with Kaien-dono and I theorized that maybe- just maybe- death is not that bad right now. Maybe I can find my resolve and leave my heart here to Renji, or Orihime, or even Ichigo. Yes, even Ichigo. And while I am dying I should not be afraid to release my inhibitions. I can confess and profess and I can realize that I might probably, possibly hold feelings fo -

An excruciating, but then suddenly blissful feeling was injected into my body. Urahara had found a drug for me in the back of his storage room. And as the cold and euphoric tranquilizer raced through my veins, I forgot what I was thinking of and I fell into an artificial, but pleasurable unconsciousness.

My eyes were pried open to your damaged, scratchy voice. I looked down to see the hideous gash at my side cleaned and bandaged. You were clean too. You bathed the blood off your skin and your broken arm was cradled motherly in a sling. Your face, bandaged and bruised and broken, concealed your expression to the point where you were unreadable.

But your voice said it all.

"How dare you."

I was bewildered. I was battered and damaged and you had no reason to use that tone on me. And to be honest, I couldn't even remember what had happened. I couldn't even remember why we were maimed or why you were broken or why I was missing a chunk of my body. But that's what you said, and that's how you said it.

"Rukia, how come you never listen?" you continued. I rejected to cooperate. I just closed my eyes and buried my face into the pillow. I was hurt. I wasn't going to take this. Not now. Not like this. We would deal with this later.

But you wouldn't tolerate my attitude. And you shoved me awake with your only good arm and you ordered me to listen. Just listen and remember everything you are about to say because you cannot take anymore of my defiant behavior.

"This," you hissed, "this is the outcome of your actions. I told you to back off and you didn't and THIS is what happens. You are reckless, Rukia. And this is the result of your recklessness."

You were belligerent and you pointed to the bandaged portion just above my hip. You leaned in close to speak right into my face, and I caught your scent of medicine and blood. "You are missing a piece of your stomach, Rukia."

You emphasized every word.

But really, I didn't care. I wanted you to leave me alone and let me sleep and I would defend myself later, even though I forgot what I did. I was so exhausted that if you were talking just a little quieter, I would have been able to sleep over the sound of your voice. But you weren't. And you were annoying me.

"Inoue will just heal me."

"She can't. She's scared."

"Later then," I mumbled through the pillow.

And that really provoked you.

"What the hell is going on with you?" You tore the blanket off of me and pulled me upright and looked straight into my groggy, drugged eyes. Your voice was so damaged and so hoarse that it could hardly keep up with your anger.

"Do you understand the intentions behind what I say whenever we're on the battlefield? When I say 'I got this' it means I can handle it. When I tell you to 'go ahead,' it means I know you're capable of taking care of yourself. And when I tell you to 'back off' it means to freakin' back off and let me do what you've trained me to do. Because if you don't back off, this happens to you. Which drives me to not think clearly and this happens to me."

But I couldn't focus, and instead I thought nonsensical thoughts- like the fact that you used the word "battlefield" when talking about hollows and how your voice sounded like gravel and if your tone was a color, it would be teal.

So I just rephrased what I said before, "Inoue will heal us."

You released a heavy and angry exhale at the floor. And to my surprise, you trade your harsh tone with a gentler one, which suits your broken voice.

"What happens when Inoue is not there to take care of us, Rukia? What happens when you're hurt like this again and all you have is me? There's only so much I can save you from. You have to help me out here."

And maybe I did understand you, but I was still drugged and I was hardly awake and hardly asleep and you knew you were talking to an empty room. So you gave up. And maybe the drugs you were on were too strong, because you did something that was absolutely unlike you. Or maybe my drugs were too strong, because I could have imagined the whole thing. But I remembered you knelt down before me, and you kissed my stomach- the part of my stomach that was gauzed and bandaged. And your lips lingered there for a minute, which felt warm and ticklish and pleasing.

That was an old-fashioned gesture back in Soul Society. To show our condolences for injured comrades, we used to kiss their wound and wish them better. But it became infrequent and rarely used and soon it was only a figure of speech. ("To kiss a wound") So I figured Renji must have told you about that act of comradeship as you allowed me to lie back down and return to unconsciousness. And you limped away, still frustrated and still injured.

It was weeks later, when I was talking to Renji, that he said he never told you about kissing a wound.



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